Lieberman's Latest Disaster: Global Warming

by: Matt Stoller

Sat Jul 28, 2007 at 00:51


centrist.jpg

I learned last year that Senator Joe Lieberman is brilliant man with an unbelievable ability to ignore reality.  In 2006, he spent his election campaign promising to bring the troops home from Iraq, and promptly reversed course after winning reelection, going even further with belligerent rhetoric against Iran.  Now he's working on something even bigger than the Iraq war - an economy-wide bill on climate change.

We all know that Lieberman cannot be trusted, but to understand the problem with his particular approach to global warming, you need to get that the Senate is far ahead of the deniers but is focused on how to regulate carbon.  There are a whole host of bills on carbon (you can track them at Hillheat.com), but only the Sanders-Boxer bill does what is needed.  The rest of them are worse than nothing.  If you pass a big piece of legislation, we'll have to wait at least five years before understanding it hasn't worked, which is five years we don't have.  And with that in mind, here's Lieberman's latest.

The bill from Warner and Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tries to limit the cost of mandating reductions of greenhouse gas emissions through an emissions cap-and-trade program.

Their bill would allow companies to borrow emission permits and pay them back in future years with interest and to buy more offsets to meet their emission requirements. The bill establishes a seven-member, president-appointed Carbon Market Efficiency Board to oversee the carbon emissions market and, if necessary, permit a temporary increase in emission allocations when prices remain high.

The Senate would have to confirm the board members, who would  have 14-year terms.

Basically this bill sets up a complicated scheme to give away carbon rights to industry, and don't worry, if the price of carbon goes to high, the government ll just let more into the atmosphere.  It is, in other words, a fraud, designed not to work.

Backing the bill is environmental DLC group Environmental Defense, and their President Fred Krupp.  There's no nice way to say this, so I'll just say it.  Krupp has been selling out the environmental movement for years. 

I'm trying to get my head around the climate change debate, and there's quite a bit here, obviously.  There's the Farm bill, the Energy bill, transportation, and a whole host of regulatory agencies.  But coming down the pike this fall are a series of economy-wide measures to regulate carbon.  We shouldn't pass anything until 2009, when the next President takes office, because Bush won't sign anything that solves the problem.  We need to be sure that the bill that goes through works, and this Congress can't get a bill like that done.

There's useful stuff to get done right now on carbon policy.  But going for full bore cap and trade, with people like Lieberman, Landrieu, Lincoln, Warner, Graham and Krupp in charge, will be a disaster.

Matt Stoller :: Lieberman's Latest Disaster: Global Warming

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Global Climate Change (0.00 / 0)
Well you can see how seriously this topic is being taken, when I who never seem to find a post spot above 2 million is the first to comment. Maybe I was just lucky this time.

The fact is, from my perspective, Global Climate change is the single most serious issue facing the world today. Today hell, in the history of mankind! I was around when the ecologists, as they were more often called then, got Johnson to pass the Clean Air Act and we cleaned up the visible pollution (smog). LA was the icon and friends there tell me the smog is coming back big time.

We didn't understand the climate so well back then, so we went right on using fossil fuels, not understanding the impact of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The Energy industry was already fully entrenched, and most everyone liked their big cars and the noise made by the internal combustion engine. Then OPEC came along and we felt the economic crunch. Now there was another good reason to abandon oil and Carter embraced it. But by 1980, mileage was going down again and the van was really catching on to the point that someone said "Sport Utility Vehicle", and that was that. One of Reagan's first acts was to remove the solar panels from the White House that Carter had installed, and if you close your eyes you can almost see him gleefully brushing the dirt from his cowboy hands as though after a hard day's work on the prairie. Reagan was a "freetrader" who believed that if you just kept giving the rich more money they would, at some point, share it and maybe even invest it in ways that benefit the world, rather than themselves, which is what they still do today. Keep it for themselves that is.

So now we finally pretty much agree that things are getting hotter. For pete's sake I have been seeing the climate change since I was a little kid. I'm looking at the weather we've had in the last 10 years and I'm wondering if we have as long as has been predicted?

And the news gets worse. Something that has not been talked about much, and relates directly to the smog effect of the 60s is a thing scientists are calling Global Dimming or Sun Dimming. The reason the smart people thought we were headed toward a cooling trend back then, and the dumb logic that politicians like Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) use to claim the scientists don't know what they are talking about because they were wrong about what they said then. He is also quoted, and I heard him say it, that global warming is being caused by the Sun, and its true because the ice caps on Mars have melted...

Anyway, to me the fact that climate study is such a complicated thing is all the more reason to listen to what they are saying. AND be even more scared!

Anyway, on September 11, 2001 something else happened aside from the horrible attack on our country, an attack we still cannot be absolutely sure who was responsible. The other thing that happened was most of the airline flights got grounded for a couple of days, more or less. During that brief period, there were a few people who were doing what they normally do. They were tracking weather conditions in the upper atmosphere. They noticed something of great significance. During the no-fly period the temperature in many places around the world, places that coincided with airline routes, increased. Hmm, what did this mean?

Well it turns out that the jet contrails were blocking sunlight and heat from reaching the planet's surface, just like the LA smog had done, and why the scientists thought we were in a cooling trend back then. This is mindboggling if you think about that in conjunction with global warming.

It is almost 6 years after 9/11/2001 and there are more planes in the air than ever. Bigger planes too, buring even more fuel and leaving heavier contrails, which in turn may actually be prolonging the warming. WOW. Does that then mean that 1) Greenpeace may have actually helped delay our understanding of climate change, inadvertantly of course, and unknowingly helped spur the warming trend? 2) Are we caught in a balancing act or tug of war with ourselves whereby we hold both ends of the worst case scenarios with our survival in the middle?

If we do not keep in mind the effects that visible pollution have in relation to greenhouse emissions, then we may not be able to accurately predict which way things will really go. Upsetting any of the eco-systems, and there are so many of them from organic to atmospheric to the oceans, can domino in any number of unpredicted ways. Really it no wonder no one wants to think about it.

However we must, above and beyond everything else, including our penchant for war.

The GAO has reported that the DoD is the largest single consumer of energy in the world, and so if you figure what we're spending to secure Persian Gulf oil, then you could probably figure you are actually spending some $4.00 more per gallon than the pump price. I got that from Mike Gravel, our could-be next President. If the war continues, the price only goes up. But what is really insane is that we just keep going along with our freemarket burning fossil fuels as fast as we can, so that it is a real possibility we may still be fighting in the Middle East for oil when the first coastlines begin to submerge...

nanobucks


Have Reid and Schumer (0.00 / 0)
had anything to say about this?

Schwarzenneger Is Trying To Pull This Same Shit In California (0.00 / 0)
I just wrote an article about it for Random Lengths News.  California's global warming law, AB 32, allows for cap-and-trade, but only in 2012, after a full spectrum of regulatory measures have been put in place. Schwarzenneger, however, has been trying to undermine the law from the beginning.  Three weeks after it was passed, he issued a signing statement an executive order placing cap-and-trade on an equal footing with regulation, and creating a whole new mechanism for implementing it.

There's been a backroom battle raging ever since, which finally erupted into the headlines.  A set of early-action measures were supposed to be passed by late June.  Only 3 were passed, and the head of the California Air Board voted against them, because he said the 3-measure package was too weak. Schwarzenneger then fired him--pretending that he quit.  The whole thing is quite illustrative of how corporate front politicians are going to try to get out front and manage this, so I think I'll post my story tomorrow.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


Sky trust (0.00 / 0)
After seeing Matt's post I stumbled upon a column by Jonathon Alter about a "sky trust" and thought it was worth a comment.  Alter cites Peter Barnes book, "Capitalism 3.0," which I read about a year ago, and highly recommend.  It might, in fact, be worthy of Legislation 2.0 treatment or some other dedicated Open Left project, and is very much in sync with our discussions of spectrum and Internet "commons."  I think its a very sound approach to key policy issues and also fairly "marketable" from a political perspective.

Alter closed his column with this quote, which I agree with:
"[A] sky trust feels ripe for a presidential candidate to grab and run with. Which one wants to save the world and give voters money at the same time?"

Here are links to the column and to a pdf version of Barnes' book.  As I recall, the gist of the idea can be digested in the first chapter or two, with specific implementations (e.g., pollution, spectrum, etc.) discussed in later chapters.

http://www.msnbc.msn...
http://onthecommons....


Thanks, Matt.... (0.00 / 0)
you have defined the treachery and the politics very well. The film, Zeitgeist, provides some clues. It can be viewed here:
http://www.zeitgeist...
But you have left one punch out: Congress, not Republicans nor Democrats can be trusted to get anything right - nothing - not with the kinds of sociopathic egomaniacs  making the deals. The critters we call our elected representatives have no conscience and no aptitude to tell the truth to the American people. And the truth is not nice.

We need a Democratic veto-proof majority and a Democratic President with character, fortitude, discernment and humility to achieve the results that must be achieved in order to save our species from the holocaust it will endure within the next 100 years.

Corporations will have to be reorganized and restructured with the proper incentives and disincentives to enact real reversal of the climate crisis.  Whole economies will have to reform their ideologies. It will be inconvenient as hell.

Science, technology and the environment have endured incredible setbacks during the past six and a half years. Vast damage has been done. But the mandate for universal truth, healthcare and real science is there, the sacrifices that we will have to endure in the short run will be harsh and unremitting. But the payoff will come in lives saved and a world that will suffice to support life for the human race.

There are so many problems that the solutions are literally teeming! True Democracy must reign worldwide, or wars that the world can ill-afford will be the new world order.

The goal of one world under the wise leadership of many excellent leaders is the Republican, Trilateral, CFR goal as well. How we all get to that goal worldwide for each and every citizen opf this world is the puzzle and the debate that must be settled by a US president - someone wiser than Solomon.

They only call it class war when we fight back.


Global Climate Change (0.00 / 0)
Whomever becomes president should make a pledge that they will appoint a person to work just on climate change and that person only reports to the president of the US.  The problem is finding a person that is not corrupted by special interest.  I could say the same thing about the president of the US.  I really believe that it will take a major global disaster before our government will listen and than it will be too late.  Oh thats right we had one (Katrina).  Well there goes mother earth.

The only part that's clear... (0.00 / 0)
"...the board members, ... would  have 14-year terms." Of course they would, right? Because 15 would be too many, but 11 or 12 (or any of the 13 other possible numbers) would be an insult.

ED and Lieberman-Warner, and a number of thoughts (0.00 / 0)
First off, thanks for the plug. I'm trying to build out better functionality for bill tracking.

Background

Here are some hopefully helpful background links from Hill Heat: Bingaman-Specter Low Carbon Economy Act, Climate Change Bills Comparison and Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade hearing. This article from Earth News is also very good.

Barbara Boxer's EPW Committee has indicated that Lieberman-Warner will be the bill they will consider for cap-and-trade legislation, which is why it's so important.

ED and Lieberman-Warner?

I'd love to see evidence for ED's support for Lieberman-Warner, especially considering the bill doesn't exist yet; they've strongly criticized the worst element of Bingaman-Specter, the cop-out carbon subsidy provision being marketed as a "safety valve":

Anthony Kreindler, spokesman at Environmental Defense, challenged the â??safety valveâ?? provision in the Bingaman bill, which would set a limit of $12 per ton of carbon dioxide in the first year for how much industry must pay for reducing their pollution.

â??Itâ??s great that weâ??re seeing more and more bipartisan support in the Senate for a mandatory climate change policy,â?? Kreindler said. â??But this bill canâ??t be the consensus solution because it has a fatal flaw. Its safety valve is a kill switch that could shut down the program and let emissions rise. It fails the basic test of science.â??

An OpenLeft Project

OpenLeft would probably be an excellent site to have people discuss the pros and cons of how carbon credits get allocated (particularly the initial allocation), especially if you can get one of the stakeholder Senators involved. An excellent, excellent person for this would be Dan Reichert at Google.

It would be exciting to see the OpenLefters leverage the lessons learned from the spectrum allocation fights to the problem of climate change legislation.


No Hot Air Vaporware, Please! (0.00 / 0)
It's a huge leap from spectrum allocation to carbon cap-and-trade systems.  Thus far, the only proven way to reduce global warming gases is to reduce global warming gases.  The European cap-and-trade system has failed, and cap-and-trade systems in general have a poor record.

It's the heigth of narrow-minded wonkish arrogance to take one piece of code from one application, and try to build a totally different kind of application around it.

The model abopted in California--which Governor Schwarzennegar is now trying to subvert (see my just-posted diary here)--is far superior.  It calls for the development of the broadest possible range of regulatory measures before any consideration of a cap-and-trade system.

A major, major problem with air emissions controls of any form is that controlling one kind of emission may produce more of another.  This is one of the chief reasons why systems of standards--for cars, locomotives, ship engines, whatever--that specify performance on a battery of different measures have emerged as the cornerstone of pollution control strategies over the years.

This approach is not perfect, for the simple reason that there are always new emissions to consider including--as greenhouse gases are being included now.  But it has a long, proven trackrecord of effectiveness within the parameters it has focused on, to the extent that political will has allowed.

Nothing remotely similar can be said for cap-and-trade systems, which are simply an ideologically-driven pipe dream at this point.  They are a bit more, in fact: the next big thing in the way of thwarting the political will to actually fix the global warming problem.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Please provide evidence (0.00 / 0)
That the European cap-and-trade system has failed. Those involved don't believe that to be true.


[ Parent ]
EU Failure Has Been Widely Reported (0.00 / 0)
Wow!  A failed program defended by those who run it.  That's a first!

In the real world, Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, told me, when I interviewed her, â??We have no model. The European model is widely viewed as having failed, and theyâ??re going back to the drawing board.â??

And for good reason. Almost at random:

The Guardian:

Smoke alarm: EU shows carbon trading is not cutting emissions

Some US states want their own 'cap and trade' scheme but the evidence is proving that permits are so generous they fail to curb industry

David Gow in Brussels
Tuesday April 3, 2007
The Guardian

Brussels lambasted the US and Australia yesterday for their inaction in cutting carbon dioxide emissions and stressed Europe's leading role in the battle against global warming. "Only EU leadership can break this impasse on a global agreement [post-Kyoto] to overcome climate change," Stavros Dimas, the EU's environment commissioner, told scientists from the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change. The body is due to publish a report this week in Brussels on the impact of global warming.

What Mr Dimas knew - but did not tell the scientists, apparently - is that the EU's programme for cutting carbon, its two-year-old emissions trading scheme (ETS), remains in disarray.

The Democrats, who are now the majority party in the US Congress, and California's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, are drafting plans for an American version of the carbon "cap-and-trade" scheme.

However, preliminary data on the scheme's performance last year - its second year of operation - showed that 93 percent, or about 9,000 of the 10,000 heavy industrial plants covered by the EU's trading scheme, emitted less carbon than their quota of free permits. The resulting 1-1.5 percent rise in emissions was not as great as in 2005 but the spot price of a tonne of carbon fell by about a quarter to â?¬1 (68p), at one point collapsing to just 92 cents.

EU Business:

Green group slams EU carbon-trading system
13 June 2007, 08:21 CET

(LONDON) - Businesses in the European Union will not be forced to reduce their carbon emissions by as much as previously thought because of "short-sighted" plans for the EU's carbon trading system, environmental group WWF said on Wednesday.

The group criticised the second phase of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), designed to reduce the EU's greenhouse gas emissions, for allowing companies to "buy massive amounts of credits from projects outside the EU," under a system set up by the Kyoto Protocol.

In its report titled "Emission Impossible", the WWF argues that "this reliance on cheap imported credits means that European industry may not have to reduce its own emissions at all" during the second phase of the carbon-trading mechanism, which is set to run from 2008 to 2012.

Under the ETS, companies are issued carbon credits which effectively set a cap on how much they are allowed to pollute. Companies may then either reduce their own emissions and sell any extra credits to other, bigger polluters, or purchase extra credits, thereby raising their cap.

The first phase, which has been running since 2005, was widely criticised because it has been argued that governments handed out too many carbon credits, allowing industry to pollute more freely than it should have been allowed to.

The WWF report studied nine EU member states -- Britain, Germany, Poland, Ireland, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy -- and estimated that during the second phase of the ETS, between 88 and 100 percent of those countries' carbon emissions could be effectively offset by purchasing additional credits from outside the EU.

"The European Commission's decision to allow companies to buy huge volumes of project credits means that heavy industry -- including the power sector -- could potentially buy its way out of cutting its own emissions," said Dr. Keith Allot, the head of WWF-UK's Climate Change Programme.

EurActiv.com:

Ministers want more 'robust' CO2 cap-and-trade scheme
Published: Monday 2 July 2007 | Updated: Wednesday 4 July 2007

European environment ministers have agreed to revise the EU's CO2 emissions-trading scheme with the aim of clamping down on weak caps proposed by member states and ensuring that all significant emitters pay the right price for their pollution.

EU ministers called on 28 June 2007 for a full review of the emissions-trading scheme (ETS), the EU's climate change flagship project, operational since 2005, which allows energy-producing companies to buy and sell carbon credits (allowances) on the market in order to achieve target cuts in the amount of CO2 emissions they release into the atmosphere.

Responding to criticism that too many allowances have been handed out in recent years, ministers agreed that the cap-setting mechanism for member states should be bolstered, giving governments fewer opportunities to over-allocate. They also said that a larger number of credits should be auctioned in the future, rather than given to companies for free â?? a move so far resisted by companies. But a move towards 100 percent auctioning â?? as demanded by green groups â?? still appears unlikely, with ministers instead calling for a minimum rate to be established.

I find the fact that you know nothing of this failure extremely troubling, to say the least.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Ooops! (0.00 / 0)
In my struggles with Ajax system (it doesn't take kindly to percent signs, folks!) I was so thrilled to finally get the contents to display that I neglected to proof it properly.  That should have read:

In the real world, Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, told me, when I interviewed her, "We have no model. The European model is widely viewed as having failed, and theyâ??re going back to the drawing board."


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Okay, It's Not Me Anymore (0.00 / 0)
There's a serious bug here, Soapy.  The preview display and the final display are NOT showing the same things.

What's getting lost in the final display is a linked reference to Assemblymember Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Chair of committee whose link is displayed above.

Her homepage is here


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Big difference (0.00 / 0)
There's a big difference between people saying that allocations were overgranted and claiming that the program has failed.

WWF's argument against carbon offsets is a philosophical dispute.

In fact, all of Mr. Rosenberg's links point to criticisms of the program, not evidence that it failed.

EU emissions decreased between 2004 and 2005, and the EU is projected to meet its Kyoto targets.

I'd likely be the first to agree with Mr. Rsoenberg if he were making specific criticisms, but his sweeping claim of failure is not supported.


[ Parent ]
Correlation Is NOT Causation (0.00 / 0)
From the very link provided about (EU emissions decreased between 2004 and 2005):

How does the information in the report fit with the EU Emission Trading Scheme?

In 2005 the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) covered approx. 47 percent of the total CO2 emissions and approx. 39 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in EU-15. The EU ETS covered approx. 49 percent of the total CO2 emission and 41 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in EU-25. In general, EU ETS information has been used by EU Member States as one input for calculating total CO2 emissions for the Energy and Industrial Processes sectors in this report. However, an explicit quantification of the contribution of the EU ETS to total CO2 emissions at sectoral and sub-sectoral level is not yet available for EU-15 or EU-25.


In short: the EU has long realized that global warming is real threat, and member nations--along with their citizens, sub-units, etc.) began taking steps years ago.  The relationship between the emission trading system and continued success in 2004-05 is unknown.

I'd likely be the first to agree with The Cunctator if s/he were providing specific proof of causal modalities (including all "side effects"), but the sweeping claim of success is not supported.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Also (0.00 / 0)
You write:
cap-and-trade systems in general have a poor record.

Please cite.

The Clean Air Act SO2 and NOx cap-and-trade systems have been remarkably effective, surpassing all expectations for reductions and minimal cost.

If you're referring to voluntary emissions markets, I agree that those have been mostly a bust, but they have little in common with mandatory cap-and-trade systems.


[ Parent ]
Please Read My Diary (0.00 / 0)
on Schwarzenegger's Bush-like subversion of AB 32, "Promise Like Gore, Deliver Like Bush?".  Toward the end, I quote from an article by another reporter for an AAN newspaper (AAN="Association of Alternative Newsweeklies").  He talks about Mary Nichols and the cap-and-trade system she helped implement at EPA.  Here is an excerpt from his story (link to original in my diary):

Nichols' tenure at the national EPA marked a decided shift in U.S. policy for establishing and enforcing emissions reductions. A June 2000 report by D.C.-based nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility [PEER] documents that Nichols, then-EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, played an instrumental role in undermining regulations and compliance.

According to the PEER report, Nichols in 1995 touted open-market trading as the "new paradigm for market-based control," referring to a paper by attorney Richard Ayres of the Oâ??Melveny and Myers law firm as inspiration for the new direction...

In 1995, the report says Nichols "directed EPA regional administrators to de-emphasize the Clean Air Actâ??s deadlines for attainment plans [or emissions-reductions goals] and instead shift to an emphasis on what she described as 'market-based alternatives.'" This gave states the green light to initiate carbon-credit-trading programs without a national cap on overall emissions or "quantification protocols," which would have established a common currency for trading....

In 1997, Nichols testified before Congress that greenhouse-gas emissions are "especially well-suited to be addressed through emissions trading because the problem is caused by cumulative emissions well mixed in the atmosphere."

PEER executive director Jeffrey Ruch explained the folly of this approach to [Sacramento News And Review]: "You were trading one type of pollutant for another, and you didn't have any kind of way to ensure you were getting apples for apples," he said. "In many cases you were trading apples for the promise of a future guava." Essentially, the carbon credits being traded were illusory; they didn't necessarily have any net environmental benefit.

Nichols left the EPA in 1997, but her "new paradigm" de facto policy remainedâ??and proved disastrous.

â??She was a midwife to a stillborn in a sense that she wasn't around when [the open-market trading] collapsed," beginning in New Jersey in 2002, Ruch explained. A 2003 Department of Environmental Protection report observed that New Jersey's Open Market Emissions Trading program failed to establish an emissions cap, did not verify the validity of credits and allowed facilities to build compliance strategies entirely on the prospect of using emission credits without the guarantee of finding a seller.

"Instead of being a trial balloon, it turned into a trial buffoon," Ruch quipped. "This was sort of looked upon as the next new wave in air-pollution control, and it collapsed under its own weight."

The 2000 PEER Report is Trading Thin Air [PDF]

I should be clear: I don't think that cap-and-trade systems are inherintly useless and unworkable.  I think that AB 32 got it right: first establish a comprehensive regulatory framework, and then look to cap-and-trade for ways to supplement direct regulation.

But the cap-and-trade system has to be subject to a number of rigorous restraints--all of which will be fought tooth-and-nail by companies who are trying to wriggle out of their responsibilities.  They will try to get credits given to them as a "right to pollute," thus continuing the past practice of externalizing their costs onto society as a whole.  They will resist any sorts of restraints meant to protect over-polluted communities of color. And they will use the very existence of the cap-and-trade system to mount repeated ideological attacks on necessary regulations that have a superior track record and ongoing capacity to reduce harmful emissions.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Immediate action (0.00 / 0)

It's very good to sound the drumbeat on Lieberman-Warner now (and contact your Senators, especially if they're on EPW), as the discussion draft is being finalized this week, and will be open for comment through the August recess.

The consensus checklist on what effective greenhouse gas emissions legislation should have is:

  • mandatory cap starting now at current levels
  • 80 percent reduction by 2050 (90 percent better, both goals are economically and technologically feasible)
  • Mandatory targets in the meantime
  • No "safety valve" or "emergency off-ramp" provisions
  • A system compatible with Kyoto -- that is to say, compatible with the EU emissions market

    The above checklist requires some form of a cap-and-trade regime. A carbon/gas tax could certainly supplement this but doesn't on its own satisfy the checklist. All legislators should be on board with the above (of course, they're not).

    Stuff that goes into the policy realm:

  • What counts for the carbon credits initially? This is closely related to the carbon offset question below.
  • Allocation of carbon credits; essentially, the more credits allocated by auction, the more punitive it is toward polluting industries; the more credits allocated by current pollution, the more protectionist and economically cushioning to polluting industries. One consideration is how differently electricity is produced across the US--some places are mostly coal, some are not, and coal-based producers pay big in an auction
  • Carbon offsets. There's no definitive scientific consensus on what should count and how, but it can't just be ignored because of that. Some choices have to be made by legislators
  • Dealing with foreign countries. Tariffs, technology funding, trade?
  • Technology support. Should the legislation have a mechanism for funding/subsidizing advanced technology?

    Plus any number of questions that go to what kind of society we want to live in as we restructure our relationship to energy. The choices we make now will shape whether we live in a winner-take-all state of energy feudalism or a sustainable, just, and participatory energy society.

    You can't go wrong with Al Gore's recommendations.


  • And be open about it: (0.00 / 0)
    I like what you say here:


    The choices we make now will shape whether we live in a winner-take-all state of energy feudalism or a sustainable, just, and participatory energy society.

    I'm going to add something a number of people won't like.  We shouldn't be knee-jerk in our responses to solutions and invite truly an open participatory society to help find the way, or ways, to a better future.  And that means CTL and Nuclear if they can find solutions to our problem.  As Gore recommends Clean Coal if "compatible with carbon capture and sequestration", we can't dismiss any technology out of hand but should encourage research and innovation in all industries toward the common goal of reversing climate change.  The extra problem which CTL faces is to build into its technology its own phased obsolescence as a bridge from oil to renewables.  But this isn't difficult because the same infrastructure involved in the process can be used in converting biomass to fuel.


    [ Parent ]
    Being Open To Further Disasters (0.00 / 0)
    The problem with nuclear has always been the concentration of power and the lack of responsibility--a lethal combination even when radiation is not involved.  In America, even low-level waste disposal hasn't been handled responsibly, why in the world would we delude ourselves into thinking long-term high-level waste would be treated any more responsibly?  And we're talking about fuckups that could poison parts of the Earth for millions of years.

    As for carbon sequestration, I'm going to be writing about a local project in my area in the next couple of months that illustrates some of the realworld problems, which, in this case, get back to environmental racism once again.  Well, who cares what happens to them anyway?  If they pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they can always leave.

    When the rhetoric of "open-mindedness" is so easily adopted to shift costs once again to the most vulnerable (minorities, unborn generations) there really is something to be said for skepticism, even it means be called "close-minded," "knee-jerk," "polarizing," "partisan," "ideological" or whatever.

    After being called "traitor," it's almost like being praised.

    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    Rhetoric (0.00 / 0)
    Skepticism, like criticism, is always valuable.  But I think you'd be hard pressed to find any solution to almost any problem which is immune to being corrupted.  Your objections are well-founded but I see them problems to be avoided not reasons not to act.  With a skeptical eye and a critical mindset we should encourage all industries to get involved.  We should all be Missourian, but not Ostrichian - all of you, show me.

    [ Parent ]
    Reasons (0.00 / 0)
    DD2 offers a cheap rhetorical trick from the corporate PR bag thereof:

    Your objections are well-founded but I see them [as] problems to be avoided not reasons not to act.

    This is a false dichotomy.

    They are reasons to act differently--in ways that deeply anti-green corporations do not like, because it forces them to pay the true costs of how they do business.


    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    Cheap rhetoric? (0.00 / 0)
    The only cheap rhetorical trick is you trying to create a false dichotomy and stir the conversation away from its meaning. There is no difference between acting in a way to avoid the problem issues raised and acting differently.  Yes, we can't let the anti-green corporations act anti-green, but if they are willing to act differently, act in a way which answers our concerns, than we shouldn't limit our encouragement of any industry - CTL, Nuclear, whoever. 

    You knew damn well what I was saying.  I won't give my opinion as to what PR bag you pulled your comment from.  This place is trying to set a standard of conversation where people treat each other with respect and it would be nice if you'd get on board.


    [ Parent ]
    You Completely Ignore The Substantive Problems I Raise (0.00 / 0)
    and then accuse me of cheap rhetorical tricks and not treating you with respect.

    Something just doesn't add up.

    "You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


    [ Parent ]
    Addendum (0.00 / 0)
    I think the progressive cause would be benefited if the Nicholas Institute carbon board proposal is debated comprehensively.

    If OpenLeft can get Timothy Profeta to engage in an open discussion, for example, progressive advocates of strong, just global warming action will be much likelier to succeed in their goals than if he expects to be called a fraud from the outset (I'm passing no judgment on that question).


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